Judge Orders Cops To Give Man Back 11 Pounds Of Pot, A Little At The Time

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Photo: Pablo-flores, Wikimedia Commons
Washington judge gives the green light to medical pot patient

‚ÄčAn interesting thing is happening in states which have legalized medical marijuana. There’s an ongoing culture war between cops who hate all marijuana, period, and patients who take the law at its word when it says they can use pot legally. From time to time, the patients win big.

Such is the case in Kent, Washington, where King County Judge Mary Roberts ordered the police department to give 11 pounds of seized marijuana back to Matthew Zugsberger, who holds a valid California medical marijuana card.
After police (with the aid of a trusty drug dog) found the stash in the trunk of Zugsberger’s car last February in the parking lot of a pharmacy in Kent, they arrested the Californian and his girlfriend and seized the weed.
Zugsberger says the cops accused him of importing marijuana from Canada (which does happen a lot in this area, being not far from the B.C. border). “Why the hell would I buy pot from Canada if I have a field of it in my back yard?”, Zugsberger reasonably asked, according to the Seattle P.I.

The California man said he began using marijuana medicinally in 2007 to manage nausea caused by a severe injury sustained while working as a underwater welder in the Gulf of Mexico. After the accident, he was prescribed opiate painkillers; Zugsberger said the drugs gave him liver problems, and he was concerned about becoming addicted to them.

Zugsberger pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession and was sentenced to three months’ probation. But defense attorney Aaron Pelley wasn’t done with the case. Pelley, who is active with Seattle-based medical marijuana advocacy organization Cannabis Defense Coalition,  filed a petition in August seeking the return of the marijuana to his client, since Zugsberger is a legal medical pot patient.

There was just one problem: Washington state’s medical marijuana law allows an individual with a valid doctors’ recommendation to posses 1.5 pounds (24 ounces) of marijuana at any given time, and the amount seized was 11 pounds.
Judge Roberts came up with an elegant and innovative solution. She ordered the police the return Zugsberger’s pot in weekly 1.5 pound increments. Attorney Pelley said it was the first time he knows of where a patient got marijuana back from the police. While there have been a few such cases in California, this does appear to be the very first time it’s happened in Washington — and this may well be the largest amount the police have been forced to return to its rightful owner.
Zugsberger got the first portion of his weed returned to him in September. Included in the first batch was a quarter pound of high grade hashish of which, according to the P.I., the man “remains quite fond.”

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Photo: Kent Police Department
Kent Police Chief Strachan: Fluent in Whinese?

‚ÄčThat’s where the matter remained until Wednesday, when pot-hating Kent Police Chief Steve Strachan just couldn’t let it be any longer. In an annoyingly whiney guest editorial in the Seattle Times, Chief Strachan unwittingly, and deliciously, brought the attention of the press and the public back to the huge humiliation of his department, who come off looking like a bunch of bozos.
“King County Judge Mary Roberts recently ordered the Kent Police Department to become something of a medical dispensary,” Chief Strachan laments. “The admittedly surreal concept of our evidence technicians dispensing marijuana to a medical patient is another bizarre episode in an ongoing debate in our society.”
Well, Chief Strachan, here’s a huge hit from the clue bong: If you hadn’t seized a legal patient’s marijuana in the first place, then you wouldn’t have to be giving it back, now would you?
“Of course we will follow the judge’s court order, because the rule of law is what police departments are all about,” Chief Strachan grudgingly grants. “However, the confusion and conflict created by medical marijuana laws diminish overall respect for the rule of law.”
You know, I can’t understand a word of that, Chief… I don’t speak Whinese.
You think maybe over-zealous officers busting legal medical marijuana patients might, just might, be the reason for all that “confusion and conflict”? You think maybe pot-phobic cops ignoring the very medical marijuana laws they are sworn to uphold might have a little something to do with that diminishing respect for the rule of law?
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
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